Matthew worked at Columbia University as both a research assistant in the field of cardiothoracic surgery and as a perfusionist with the heart and lung transplant team. He hopes to leverage his ongoing passion for the development and institution of medical technology into a career as a surgeon.
We met with Shawna Bellew, a fourth year med student from the University of Central Florida. Her submissions for the OB/GYN and Internal Medicine categories both won 3rd place in the Curēus Fall 2012 Poster competition.
The OB/GYN poster compares traditional laparotomy to robotic techniques in treating endometrial cancer. Her Internal Medicine entry explores acute pancreatitis and its connection to eating disorders, specifically bulimia in young females.
Growing up in a family of doctors the decision to go to med school came easy, although not obviously. She started her studies as an art major, and even though she switched tracks she still remains a passionate artist.
Team Cureus spoke with Austin Nakatsuka, about his poster research on redesigning football helmets, his spearfishing adventures and passion for helping underserved communities both at home and abroad.
Austin is second year med student at the University of Hawaii-John A. Burns School of Medicine and volunteers at a rehab clinic working alongside his father for the past year at the Salvation Army Ola Kino Clinic in Honolulu.
“It’s a really big issue going around the NFL right now,” Austin told us. “Especially because you find out more information on concussions, preventing concussion risks, and then we were wondering if it’s modifications to the helmet or modifications to the rules that needs to happen.”
His conclusion is that adding a soft exterior layer of foam onto helmets can actually reduce the potential of concussion injuries on the football field. While we’re sure that the NFL is not going to return to leather helmets of old, as Austin would suggest, it will be interesting to follow how and if the league will make significant changes to their helmet design.
Even though he called himself more of “an NBA guy” than a football fan, it was interesting to learn that Austin is very passionate about spearfishing. It’s one of the things that kept him sane through the rigorous program at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii.
While he tries to get out two or three times a week, his favorite time to go spearfishing is Friday afternoons after his anatomy lab because “It gets the smell of formaldehyde off.”
My friends and I in med school would go on Fridays after anatomy lab around 4pm or so and we’d go for maybe two to three hours,” said Austin. “The nice thing is it’s a sort of an escape or release because you’re finding fish and focusing on the environment.”
We asked Austin what else he’s passionate about. He told us that “serving underserved” communities is a big part of what he does as a student with his father who set up a program for the Salvation Army which serves as a drug rehab center for the homeless as well as recently released prisoners. In fact, serving the underserved was one of the reasons he went into medical school.
“I realized that medicine was a really great avenue mainly because you kind of have this unlimited potential to help people. I wanted to have as many skills and abilities as I could to serve people around the world,” Austin told Cureus.
“But I do want to be more established in my community and serve Hawaii, especially because we currently have a shortage of doctors in Hawaii and it’s growing and especially because I’m highly connected here and I know the people — you know I grew up here.”
Austin admitted that volunteering at the clinic has been a great way to stay connected with the community and do what he’s most passionate about — helping people.
“It’s a good teaching ground for me on how to practice medicine. I see the patients, perform medical exams, present it to my Dad, write up a history and things like that.”
Team Cureus asked Austin what he would want friends and colleagues to know about the John A. Burns School of Medicine.
“We’re given a lot of clinical experiences. We do a type of learning called, “Problem Based Learning,” Austin said. “We base our learning around specific cases about patients that they have and so we can associate our learning to those cases. Our school does a really great job with that.
“They also do a really great job of facilitating team work within, between classmates — kind of dampening down the competitive atmosphere and focusing more on an integrated togetherness sort of feel that I really like”. Austin added.
“We’re moving toward the trend of doctors joining up in groups and having to partner together and we’re kind of gearing more away from that single doctor kind of thing.”
Curēus stopped by to talk to Olga Afanasiev, a pathology graduate student at the University of Washington. Olga has begun her thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Nghiem. The focus of her research is on studying a rare, and often lethal, neuroendocrine skin cancer, Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) She entered her poster into the Curēus Fall 2012 Poster Competition on the same topic.
It used to be that building a professional reputation as a physician was just a matter of working hard, publishing and speaking to demonstrate your thought leadership while also developing strong word of mouth from well treated patients.
No longer! A physician’s reputation is increasingly built and displayed online. The web is now the largest source of information for physicians AND patients. When your colleagues want to know more about you…they turn to the web.
Writing is one of the most powerful ways a physician develops his or her reputation and publishing medical posters is often the first experience most physicians have with publishing.
Cureus is hosting our first international poster competition for many reasons among which are the opportunity for authors to showcase their works to the world rather than a few people at a conference. Additionally, it’s a way to begin building one’s “Digital CV” while possibly making connections with other authors with similar interests.
With that context, I want to offer some very simple advice to every medical student and physician author…spend a little time building out your profile. People connect with people first then they connect with content. The Fall 2012 Poster Competition site traffic has shown very clearly that those authors who create a full profile along with a picture are far more likely to generate poster views and votes.
Realize this is not specific to Cureus — as you move forward in your career, don’t short-change your work and expertise by not taking advantage of the tools at your disposal. This may include personal or practice web sites, LinkedIn accounts and more.
As for generating maximum readership of your posters on Cureus…take a few extra minutes now to add a picture, list awards you may have earned, your address etc. Our data shows that these steps work!
As a result of requests from several medical schools and residency programs to extend the poster contest deadline, the Cureus editorial staff has decided to change the submission deadline to October 12 at 5PM PST.
We are pleased to see that more and more programs have been getting involved in the competition with entries from medical schools all over the United States, Europe and now the Middle East. As of this post, top honors go to:
University of Central Florida
Washington University in St. Louis
The schools from the eastern half of the US are definitely dominating those from the west to this point with the exception of Stanford and UW. Where are USC, UCLA, OHSU, UC San Diego? Time to get moving!
Note: voting is open once a poster is submitted, so the authors who get their posters submitted before the deadline and begin promoting them have a head- start toward finishing among the top 10 finalists. The Cureus editorial board will select the top 3 winners from among the 10 finalists.